#511 – The Primal Scream Revisited with Drs. Arthur and France Janov

Arthur and France Janov

Dr. Arthur Janov is one of the world’s leading psychologists and author of 12 books, including the international bestseller, The Primal Scream and his newest book, Primal Healing, published in November 2006. He is the Founder and Director of the Primal Center in Santa Monica, California. He has been elected to the Academic Hall of Fame of Claremont Graduate University.

Dr. Janov received his B.A. and M.S.W. in psychiatric social work from the University of California, Los Angeles and his Ph.D. in psychology from Claremont Graduate School. Before turning to Primal Therapy, he practiced conventional psychotherapy in his native California. He did an internship at the Hacker Psychiatric Clinic in Beverly Hills, worked for the Veterans’ Administration at Brentwood Neuro-psychiatric Hospital and was in private practice for 1952 till 1967. He was also on the staff of the Psychiatric Department at Los Angeles Children’s Hospital where he was involved in developing their psychosomatic unit.

The course of Dr. Janov’s professional life changed in a single day in the mid-1960’s with the discovery of Primal Pain. During a therapy session, he heard (as he describes it), “an eerie scream welling up from the depths of a young man who was lying on the floor”. He came to believe that this scream was the product of some unconscious, intangible wound that the patient was unable to resolve. Since then, Dr. Janov has devoted his professional life to the investigation of that underlying pain and the development of a precise, scientific therapy that could mitigate its lifelong effects.

Dr. Janov has been conducting revolutionary research in the field of psychotherapy for more than three decades. As the originator of Primal Therapy, he has treated thousands of patients and conducted extensive research to support his thesis that both physical and psychic ailments can be linked to early trauma. He has concluded that patients can dramatically reduce such debilitating medical problems as depression, anxiety, insomnia, alcoholism, drug addiction, heart disease and many other serious diseases. In 1970 he introduced his radical new approach to therapy to the general public in his first book, The Primal Scream, which became a best-seller and has since sold more than a million copies worldwide.

In the last 30 years Primal Therapy has established itself as the only therapy producing deep changes in a host of psychosomatic symptoms and psychological problems. As Director and Supervisor of Research with the Primal Foundation Laboratory, Dr. Janov was the first psychologist to submit his results to scientific scrutiny. Studies at Rutgers, the University of Copenhagen, St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in England and the University of California at Los Angeles have all supported his theory that Primal Therapy can produce measurable positive effects on the function of the human brain and body.

Dr. Janov and his wife, Dr. France D. Janov, co-director at the Primal Center, have lectured worldwide on Primal Theory and Primal Therapy, including to the Royal College of Medicine, London, England; Hunter College, New York; Karolinska Medical and Research Center, Stockholm, Sweden. His work has also been the subject of a PBS special in the United States and of documentaries in Germany, England, France and Sweden.

The latest research conducted at Dr. Janov’s Primal Center on the effects of Primal Therapy on the brain was performed by Dr. Erik Hoffman, former Professor of Neurophysiology at Copenhagen University. This research has shown very clear changes in the brain as a result of feeling.
Dr. Janov has authored twelve books. His latest is “The Janov Solution, Lifting Depression through Primal Therapy- published September 2007. These books have been translated into twenty-four languages, throughout the world.
In 1989 in an effort to expand the Primal network, Dr. Janov established Dr. Janov’s Primal Center in Santa Monica, California with his wife, Dr. France Janov.

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  1. Alice Kaspar
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    I listened to this podcast after having a morning anxiety episode. I suspect I have childhood issues that could be resolved with this therapy. Unfortunately, three weeks in California is outside of my financial comfort zone. Is there another option?

  2. Posted June 25, 2016 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    I urge you to find a therapist you can afford in your own local area (or maybe even on Skype if it’s more affordable). There are other therapists/therapies out there that have been effective with anxiety!.

  3. Michele
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    I asked the same question to Dr Janov, and there is no clinic anywhere which works as he does. neither any psychotherapist or else. Mrs Kaspar, you better put some money by the side, and when you have enough, go. That is what I’m doing now. I’m French Canadian and maybe my English is not too good, but you understand what I mean.

  4. Posted October 14, 2017 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    If I had read this book 5 years ago I am fairly certain I would have dismissed it. What Janov describes in this book can seem almost unbelievable. He relates the outcomes of his particular brand of healing which he first proposed in his original book “The Primal Scream” many decades ago. His original book made quite a stir and I recall it being ridiculed although I never looked into the details. Janov had gone on to create a centre for his approach with a rigorous training process and discussed the implications of his work here. Most tellingly Janov records physiological measures in his approach including vital signs and blood cortisol levels and reports consistent normalizations of these values over the course of his therapy. Although Janov does not refer to the work of Stephen Porges in his writing, his results and observations are entirely consistent with Porges’ theoretical framework. My recent training in Somatic Experiencing and Somatic Resilience and Regulation indicate to me that Janov’s theories are accurate, and this is very inspiring. Essentially Janov refers to the impact of developmental trauma including during fetal development and birth as an “imprint” that drives temperament, behaviour and often physical illness throughout the life cycle. This imprint is “gated” by the later developing higher levels of the nervous system and remains below consciousness until it is accessed by clinical methods when it can be integrated and resolved. Janov’s theories help explain the high frequency of fetal and birth adverse events in our most ill psychiatric patients and the results of the ACE studies which reveal a strong correlation between early trauma and neglect and later physical and mental illness. Janov’s work is also a compelling rebuttal to much of the current approach to therapy and treatment, while he also appears to make use of medications as an adjunct to method he has developed, more apparently to facilitate the work than as an end in itself. Overall I have found Janov’s work to be fascinating, but this book on it’s own would probably be frustrating without the other background reading that prepared me for it. This book is not an illustrations of Janov’s methods, he describes these only in a cursory fashion in an appendix at the back of the book, he relies on experiential training to deliver his technique. What Janov describes in his book is a powerful theoretical model to understand much of what plagues us medically and psychologically and an approach to undoing these deep influences in our psyche. The implications of this are profound an are slowly gaining credibility as the evidence keeps coming in. We are still far from seeing a shift in our practice that takes these findings into account, mostly because it takes experience to incorporate these techniques (his therapists require years of training) and this is not intellectual learning, but involves direct experience of these imprints within the clinician themselves.

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